LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Police work is taxing both mentally and physically especially in today’s current climate.
“Imagine going to a job that you feel you’re not supported,” said Stephanie Samuels, the founder, and director of CopLine.
CopLine is an international hotline that is a not for profit that is answered completely by retired police officers who have been vetted and trained to answer calls for other active, retired law enforcement officers as well as their families.
Samuels shared with Spectrum News 1 what some of the concerns have been.
“How do you deal with people that truly want to do harm only because of a uniform,” asked Samuels.
Samuels speaks from her perspective as a civilian. As a psychotherapist and counselor, she has trained the volunteers to offer peer assistance for someone who decides to come to them for help. A lot of the calls are from police who live in cities where there are talks of defunding police departments. The concern for many of these officers is about the lack of ability to protect their loved ones.
“When officers are sworn in they understand that are going to be fighting the invisible enemy whether that is COVID-19 or a bad guy,” said Samuels. “They took the job knowing that. What they never took the job for or ever prepared for was to become the enemy,” she added.
Samuels said that police will try to protect the constitutional right people have to peacefully protest. However, law enforcement officers from the polarized cities across the country have dialed in facing pressure from numerous fronts.
“They are fighting leadership from within their departments. They are fighting a difficult media and then they go home,” said Samuels. “They go home after being beaten up all day long.”
Samuels said 90 percent of her private practice is law enforcement with the other 10 percent being other first responders and their families. Her group aims to be a resource police can turn to for help to help lower suicide rates.
“I don’t think that people realize that more officers die by their own hands than die in the line of duty,” said Samuels.
A lot of the stress comes from the national spotlight and public pressure that has been with the high profile cases this summer. Samuels says that because of the actions of a few officers, it has transformed the light the entire profession is cast in.
“They know they will be judged for the actions for one. They know that they will represent that one,” she added.
Law enforcement members or their families looking for help can contact 1-800-COPLINE or 1-800-267-5463.